Madi Genz called it the biggest win for her team.
And in the biggest win, it was Genz who best rose to the occasion.
The senior outside hitter for the Brainerd Warriors volleyball team finished with 12 kills, 22 digs and two ace serves against the Moorhead Spuds to propel the Warriors to a 3-1 victory against a Section 8-3A nemesis Thursday, Nov. 5, at Brainerd High School.
“We went into that game with confidence, but as soon as we won that first set our confidence just kept going up and up,” Genz said. “When we got to that fourth set and it was 24-22, we realized we could actually do this. It was something that has been a huge confidence boost to our team. It was a really big win.
“We have alumni texting and calling us telling us that’s the biggest win in a long time and congratulations.”
According to Dispatch records, the last time the Warriors beat Moorhead was Oct. 30, 1997, in the North Subsection 8-2A opening round. Since that time, Moorhead has beaten Brainerd seven times, all seven times in the postseason, including the last three seasons.
Genz’s big game was due to her defense, said Warrior head coach Rick Kuehlwein.
“It’s her serve receive and her passing,” Kuehlwein said. “Nobody frustrates me more than Madi when she hits the wall or hits something else, but when you look at tape, and I watched the Moorhead tape, and we wouldn’t have won without Madi Genz. She had twice as many touches as anybody defensively. On serve receive, she had double of anybody with only two errors. She had 39 serve receives and only two shanks. That’s pretty good.
“She’s making good reads. In other words, she’ll look how the hitter is lined up and if her shoulders are going one way, she’ll read that. Madi will line up to the hitter. She had 22 digs.”
Genz’s big night against Moorhead was sandwiched between an eight-kill, 19-dig night in a 3-0 win over Bemidji Monday, Nov. 2. She concluded the week with three kills and 14 digs in a 3-0 blowout of Sauk Rapids Saturday, Nov. 7.
Genz’s 55 digs along with 57 serve receptions with just six errors also earned her the Central Lakes Conference Defensive Volleyball Player of the Week.
“I really improved on reading the ball,” Genz said. “That's something I really struggled with; being in the right spot when I needed to be. This year it really has clicked with me to find where the ball is and to line up with it and really be in that right spot to get the ball up. That’s my biggest improvement.”
Genz’s defense is so improved, Kuehlwein joked with her that maybe in college she should play the libero position.
“Defensively she rose to the next level,” Kuehlwein said. “We film everything, whether it’s (Junior Olympics) in the winter or last year and it’s as if something just clicked in her. She moves her feet. She gets in the right position.”
Genz added 11 kills and seven digs against St. Cloud Apollo Monday, Oct. 9. She admitted her offense has been up and down this season.
“For my offense, I’ve been working on my arm swing a lot,” Genz said. “My offense has been a little bit off the last couple of games -- my timing and keeping my shoulder up high. It will come along once I can figure it out. Just like my defense. I just have to keep working at it.”
On the season, she has 74 kills and a .113 hitting percentage with a 31.0 kill percentage. She’s serving at an 81.3 percentage with seven aces. She has 11 blocks and 129 digs.
Genz leads the team in digs and is tied for the lead in kills.
“When she’s on she does great,” Kuehlwein said. “With Madi, she’s really good off the net. When it’s really close to the net she’ll pound the ball into the middle of the net or do something else.”
Last season, playing right-side hitter, Genz finished with 71 kills, 45 blocks and 38 digs. As a sophomore, Genz posted 62 kills, 41 blocks and seven digs.
Her experience and work ethic were keys to making her a team captain, which is an honor she doesn’t take lightly.
“Being a team leader is really important just because when I was younger I always looked up to the captains,” Genz said. “For me being named captain was a really big thing. I want kids to look up to me and see how much I worked and how much I put into volleyball and that they can do it, too.
“For gosh sakes, I sat my entire freshman year. I didn’t play one set my freshman year. Then my sophomore and junior year and got thrown into a position where I would get playing time, but I had never played before. For me it was such a big motivator because I stepped onto that court every day and I worked my butt off and every practice I worked my butt off and it seems to be paying off this year. So as a leader, I want to be able to show younger players that if you work for something it will come.”
Other notable performances
Hala Davis, volleyball, finished with eight kills and two blocks against Bemidji, eight kills against Moorhead and nine kills against Sauk Rapids
Abbigayle Bohlen, volleyball, finished with 26 set assists, two digs and two ace serves against Bemidji, 25 set assists and five digs against Moorhead and 22 set assists and three ace serves against Sauk Rapids.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Position: Outside hitter
Career highlight: Getting the game-winning point against Alexandria last year
Other sports: Track and field
Grade-point average: 3.2
Favorite class: AP Psychology
Favorite food: Pasta
Favorite movie: “Miracle”
Favorite TV show: “Friends”
Favorite website or app: Snapchat
Favorite restaurant: Buffalo Wild Wings
Future plans: Attend college and play volleyball
Favorite athlete: Former University of Minnesota Gopher volleyball player Daly Santana Parents: Dawn and Alan Genz